Search Resumes For Air France 447 Voice And Data Recorders

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

Having narrowed the search area to one-tenth its previous size, investigators will now search the ocean floor, again, for the data recorders of Air France Flight 447. The Airbus A330 was discovered on June 1, 2009, to have virtually disappeared into the Atlantic, off Brazil, with 228 aboard. Two prior expeditions to retrieve the cockpit voice (CVR) and flight data recorders (FDR) have failed. One of those included a nuclear submarine. The new expedition will employ three sonar-equipped robot submarines and two search ships, including the Anne Candies undersea research vessel. U.S. Navy sonar equipment will be used in a refined search area of about 770 square miles where the ocean ranges up to 13,000 feet deep. Though roughly 1,000 pieces of debris and 50 bodies were found in the initial search, the first wreckage was not spotted until it had been drifting for five days in the ocean. The new undersea search is expected to last at least four weeks. Without the recorders, investigators have warned that a more extensive understanding of the crash may not be possible.

Alain Bouillard, France's chief investigator at the time of the accident, is still on the case and has stated publicly that he's determined to find what led to the loss of the four-year-old jet. The search team has used data mined from thousands of fixed and drifting buoys analyzed by oceanographers and mathematicians to reduce the search area. But the team still runs the risk that the cockpit voice and flight data recorders, if found, will have suffered enough damage to make them unreadable. Bouillard is optimistic. Investigators believe examination of the wreckage shows that the jet was intact when it hit the water, violently, and then broke up. Flight 447 had been cruising at 35,000 feet when a last update was received from Captain Mar Cubois at 10:35 p.m.. After the jet crossed an area of turbulence it transmitted a burst of automated messages that gave rescuers a vague idea of where the jet was when its systems began to experience anomalies. The messages compose the last information provided from the aircraft as it flew.